In a new survey from Harris Interactive, 9% of adult respondents reported “My child or a child I am at least partly responsible for has been or is currently being bullied in school.” Only 2% said that “My child or a child I am at least partly responsible for has been accused of bullying in school (emphasis added).
These statistics are actually a bit lower than other data we’ve seen lately, which helps to contradict the widely spread myth that bullying is commonplace and getting worse. The study actually shows that it may be getting better.
Misleading press release
As the title of the survey’s press release pointed out, “6 in 10 Americans Say They or Someone They Know Have Been Bullied,” but that’s kind of a meaningless and misleading statistic because “someone they know” can include a wide range of people. If I were asked that question I too would have to say yes but I’d also have to say yes if I were asked “have you or someone you know been killed in an airline crash.” Of the many of people I know, one did die in such a crash about a decade ago.
True, 44% of the respondents said that they “recall being bullied” when they were in school which, based the data about what they know about their own kids, suggests that bullying may be way lower now than it was back then even though the survey also reported that many American think it’s getting worse.
Perception vs. reality
“This is an issue affecting a great many Americans, and there’s a very real perception that it’s getting worse,” said Jen Loukes, vice president of the Harris Poll School Pulse, Harris Interactive’s longstanding School Satisfaction study.” This doesn’t surprise me. With all the media hype about an “epidemic of bullying,” it stands to reason people might feel this way, but just because people think something is true, doesn’t mean it is.